Posts Tagged ‘Chris Jones’


A double-dose of links? Yes. It’s part of our plan to transform into a news aggregator and get bought by Huffington Post.

* Patrick Reusse returned to Fulda for his 50th reunion and it was a bittersweet affair.

* Relive the night the Gophers blew a 28-7 fourth-quarter lead against Michigan and altered the course of the entire football program. Or stab yourself in the eye with a pen.

* Author Tom Clancy died this week in a Baltimore hospital. I read several of his books but, putting a twist on things, I usually enjoyed the movie adaptations more. The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, etc. Here’s an old review from 1994 of Christopher Buckley ripping on Clancy’s book Debt of Honor. 

* From A Wolf Among Wolves, can Derrick Williams be a small forward?

* Chris Jones on Michael Weiner, the MLB union’s executive director who is battling terminal cancer.

* SB Nation’s Evin Demirel on D3 football and its effect on liberal arts colleges.

* Andy Greenwald on Walter White’s legacy.

* Also in Grantland, Brian Phillips profiles Peyton Manning.

* As Michael Jordan continues his transformation into a Citizen Kane-type character, he talks about who could beat him one-on-one.

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Don’t panic, people. Everything’s going to be okay. It is Monday. Sorry. But these are The Tapes, our weekly links section that usually runs on Fridays, a nice cap to the week. But it’s been a few weeks since we’ve run them and a series of weekend events has led us to running these at the start of the week instead of the end. So hopefully you still enjoy them, even though you still have five days of work left.

* The New Yorker gets a redesign.

* Chris Jones on what happened on the flight from Dallas to Washington after JFK’s assassination.

* The NBA is likely going to change the format for the Finals, which is currently a 2-3-2. They’ll make it like the rest of the playoffs with 2-2-1-1-1.

* One of the Italian scientists convicted of failing to predict a deadly earthquake, who was sentenced to six years in prison, is still trying to say he shouldn’t be blamed. The nerve, huh? When ever someone complains about the U.S. judicial system, make yourself feel better by reading about the Italian one (this case, Amanda Knox, The Monster of Florence).

* The New Republic originally didn’t like Animal Farm.

* Take the Breaking Bad super quiz.

* Grantland goes on the set with Kenny Powers.

* Yankee fan or no, Mariano Rivera’s final appearance at Yankee Stadium was very cool.


Welcome to this week’s links, which include an in-depth examination of the last play in the Timberwolves-Lakers game as we try and determine if Kobe fouled Rubio. No, no, he fouled him. Onward:

* This crazy Buzz Bissinger story got a lot of…buzz this week as the Friday Night Lights author detailed his shopping addiction and out-of-control sex life. Since then, Bissinger has reportedly entered rehab.

* Chris Jones with a great profile of Hugh Hefner for Esquire.

* Game of Thrones returns this week. New York Mag gives us the Game of Thrones death generator, where you choose how you’d like to die in Westeros.

* The Simpsons is famous for its amazing original songs — years ago I bought a CD that had about 20 of them on it. And here the show’s writers pick their favorites. Feels like Stonecutters should be higher than 7.

* Adrian Wojnarowski on the end of the Heat’s winning streak and LeBron’s unhappiness with the Bulls’ physical play.

* Louie Anderson is still hurting after a diving mishap for the show Splash. Huh.

* Five perfectly logical explanations for Justin Bieber going through airport security shirtless.

* CNN and Esquire are fighting about who killed Osama bin Laden. Really. Esquire published a story with the shooter. CNN debunked that story. Then Esquire pointed out that a few months ago CNN reported something contrary to the network’s most recent story. Media fight!


On Wednesday afternoon New York City got hit with its first snowfall of the winter. I drove home with a co-worker who lives in our neighborhood. Before getting in the car, the 37-year-old told me she hadn’t driven in snow since college. I told her she had to get us home safely, for our Friday links on TVFury must live on. She did.

* Former Fury Files guest Chris Jones wrote an intriguing piece about the New York City marathon and why Bloomberg should not have canceled it.

* ESPN’s Jeff MacGregor writes about his experience in the wake of Sandy, and how sports – its myths and traditions – played a role as he lived in the dark.

* There’s a chance Saturday could be the final game for St. John’s coach John Gagliardi. St. Paul Pioneer Press writer Bob Sansevere – who has interviewed Gagliardi countless times – chats with the legend once again.

* I admit I’m a Denzel Washington fanboy. And I just saw Flight and loved it. Here are a couple of Denzel pieces from Grantland. This one is an essay. And here’s a really fun interview with the actor.

* Cool story on how Truman Capote went about profiling Marlon Brando for a famous New Yorker story in 1957.

* From the journalists-on-journalists files, it turns out that genius political predictor Nate Silver got his start in sports. Conversely, the profession tends to attracts psychopaths, according to the Business Insider. And here I just thought we were free-food mooches.

* The podcast of the week: The Basketball Jones. Why? Because I will never – never – stop loving the sound of hoops being broken down by men with Canadian accents. To be clear, they know their stuff and are often entertaining. But there’s no question that I listen longer than I otherwise might just on the off chance that something delightfully Canadian will happen, that one of the regular panel members will drop an “aboot” or dig way too deep into the Toronto Raptors. It’s the good kind of strange, the exact opposite of listening to Americans announce soccer.


We’re going to try something different this week, introducing multimedia elements into our weekly review of stuff that’s worth your time. Why? Because just as Gov. Jesse Ventura ain’t got time to bleed, TV ain’t got time to read – at least, not as much time as he’d like. That’s hard to do while you’re sitting in a car, driving to an assignment.

Plus, it’s fair to say that America in 2012 does not live in print alone. Let us know what you think:

* Although I know next to nothing about English Premier League soccer and miss about half of the jokes, the Men in Blazers podcast on the Grantland Network is certifiably awesome. It’s two futbol experts from across the pond discussing, yes, games, but also also styles and personalities and culture. They’re smart and funny and have delightful accents. Honestly, they’re enjoyable enough to entice me to pay more attention to the EPL. We should all do our jobs half as well as these blokes.

* Jordan Conn, whom I had the pleasure of meeting last spring, hit a home run with his profile of Mo Isom, an aspiring kicker at LSU who has overcome an eating disorder, the suicide of her father and a serious car crash. Oh, and Mo is a she rather than a he. Fascinating stuff.

*A social-experiment piece in The New York Times claims that working four-day weeks can make people more productive, as can dedicating a month to creative thought. Frankly, I can’t imagine having that much time to dedicate to new ideas. Sounds wonderful … and impossible in most industries.

* Big moment for TVFury this week – although not as big as expected – in that an NPR show in Hartford, Conn., read a post in which TV defended energy drinks, and subsequently invited him on the show. He got 5 minutes instead of the expected 20. Sigh. Still, here’s a link to the replay.

* Fury here. Hollywood lost a great director this week when Tony Scott took his own life. He directed Top Gun, True Romance, Crimson Tide and many, many other entertaining films. Here’s a Chris Jones piece on Scott’s death, along with a piece Jones wrote about Scott a few years ago.

* Will Leitch of New York magazine wrote a bit on everyone’s favorite TV sports pundit, Skip Bayless. At this point, Skip’s sports proclamations are sort of like PETA publicity stunts but he still gets people upset.

* Meant to link this a few months ago, but worth it now. A letter from legendary editor Maxwell Perkins to F. Scott Fitzgerald about the book that ultimately became The Great Gatsby.

* Mike Francesa has a meltdown about the Mets. An epic rant. Ah, sports talk radio.

 


Welcome to our weekly links. By the way, I just started watching Game of Thrones, two years after most people discovered it on HBO (it’s okay, I’m always behind the times; it took me until 2010 to watch The Sopranos). The first season’s discs on Netflix now consume my life. So this is a short intro until I get back to the Starks, Lannisters and imps.

* Grantland ran a long piece on South Africa’s history in the Olympics, which, during the apartheid era, was no history at all.

* A sad story about a name from the past. Neil Reed was a scrappy guard for Indiana who was best known for being choked by Bobby Knight, an incident captured on tape. Reed, who became a high school coach, died Thursday at the age 36 of a heart attack.

* Chris Jones – former Fury Files guest – penned a good piece with the guy who sculpted the famous Joe Paterno statue.

* The always entertaining Drew Magary documented his quest to sing the national anthem at a sporting event.

* TV and Fury met while working in Fargo, as in North Dakota, a state that’s blowing up in both and good and bad ways due to an oil boom. Men’s Journal – yes, Men’s Journal – is the latest to chronicle the Wild West atmosphere.

* In other Olympic news, did you know that Adolph Hitler and the Nazis are behind the torch run? Neither did we until reading this piece by Yahoo! Sports. Hope we didn’t ruin your Opening Ceremonies experience.


Welcome to the Memorial Day Weekend edition of The Tapes. It’s raining in New York. I’m working Memorial Day. Other than that, fun weekend. To the links:

* I just finished writing a story for the Saint John’s alumni magazine. It’s extraordinary stuff. And in the next alumni magazine, the extraordinary story will share space with other tales of Johnnies and will include little updates on successes, births and marriages. None of them will be as exciting as Ted Kaczynski – the Unabomber – sending in an update to Harvard for his 50th reunion. He listed his occupation as prisoner.

* The Yankees might be up for sale soon. Well, probably not, unless this barely sourced story in the Daily News is accurate, which the Steinbrenner boys says it isn’t. George paid $8.8 million for the team. What would it go for now? At least, what, $50 million, right?

* Staged or not, this Kyrie Irving commercial is so cool. The story is Pepsi was there filming a documentary on the “nephew,” which is why the cameras were there. But the action was legitimate. True or not, it’s a great video.

* You really don’t want to read anymore about the Kardashians, correct? Well, read this piece on the man in the middle of all of it, Bruce Jenner. Esquire’s Chris Jones tells the tale.”On the show, Jenner can seem emasculated, as though his testicles are in a jar somewhere, along with the rest of his former presence, this once-proud man drowning in a sea of estrogen and petty humiliations. He can seem that way because that’s essentially what he is.”

* TV here. Now, I know this is going to come as a shock to everyone, but I didn’t do a ton of reading this week. Was too busy working and gearing up for the first real road trip for our little one. Oy.
The destination: Minneapolis-St. Paul, which just so happens to be gearing up to the fifth edition of hip-hop festival Soundset on Sunday. The biggest names on the bill are Atmosphere, Lupe Fiasco, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon. But the lineup is incredibly deep and rife with quality indie acts. You can download a mix featuring every involved artist here. It’s free and legal.

* One thing I did read was about, well, reading. The Harvard Sports Analysis Collective took a look at the readability of sports stories and specific writers. The broad results: sports sections are easier to read than most, and Charlie Pierce uses more complex words than, say, Rick Reilly.
What it doesn’t answer: Is it good or bad to be readable? I think we can all agree that some pieces are smarter than others, but I’d argue writers can go too far in that direction. I’m not saying they should dumb it down – ideally, the daily collection is all over in terms of reading level. It’s just that operating in the middle is probably ideal … as long as that comes naturally. Forcing things in either direction isn’t good. At least, that’s what Captain Obvious told me.


Hello. Welcome.

* A New Jersey woman was arrested for the burns her daughter suffered from tanning. That’s part of the story. The real story is the woman’s face.

* The most bizarre story of the week – okay, not the most bizarre, not with the tanning woman above – was the tale of an ESPN.com columnist who was apparently running a scam that would have made a group of Nigerian princes proud. Deadspin broke the story. The woman’s name was apparently Sarah Phillips but she might have simply been a puppet for a shadowy figure running the show. The pair kept getting people to hand over large sums of money to them, all because they thought an ESPN columnist was behind a new venture. And thought the person behind it was an attractive woman who loved sports gambling.

* The horrific Junior Seau story will receive a lot of attention in the coming months. Who knows if concussions played a role or if it was depression or money issues or family troubles or if he planned it for a long time or it was a spur of the second decision with eternal consequences. But of all the words that have already been written about it, and all the words that will be written, this short piece by Esquire’s Chris Jones was as powerful as anything you’ll read.

* ESPN’s Wright Thompson had a fascinating piece on a Texas high school basketball player who wasn’t what he appeared to be.

* You know that Christmas saying about Jesus being the reason for the season? Well, it turns out there’s more to Cinco de Mayo – which is on tap for Saturday – than most gringos realize. This blog explains the history of the event. And, no, it’s not Mexican Independence Day, either.

* And, finally, we’d like to congratulate Amar’e Stoudamire for edging out Rajon Rondo as the NBA Idiot of the Week. (Don’t ask us to explain the scoring system.)
Although there are plenty of good pieces about his run-in with a fire extinguisher, this weird video tops them all. Enjoy.


After a nearly three-month hiatus, the Fury Files make their triumphant return (thanks to those who signed the online petition demanding their reinstatement. We heard you). Check out previous editions with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman, Kevin Van Valkenburg and Michael Kruse.

This week’s guest is Chris Jones, a guy with a common name but uncommon talent. Jones is a Writer at Large for Esquire and has won two National Magazine Awards. A few months ago he took over as the backpage columnist at ESPN the Magazine. He was an original contributor to Bill Simmons’ Grantland. He’s also written two books, Falling Hard: A Rookie’s Year in Boxing, and Too Far From Home, A Story of Life and Death in Space. And even though it’s been silent for awhile, Jones’s blog – Son of Bold Venture – was an insightful, entertaining look into the life, and mind, of a writer. You can also follow him on Twitter at MySecondEmpire.

Jones has written some of the more memorable magazine stories of the past decade. He won the National Magazine Award for 2004’s Home, which told the story of the astronauts who were on the International Space Station when Columbia exploded in February 2003. And he won the award for 2008’s The Things That Carried Him, the remarkable story of Joey Montgomery, a soldier killed in Iraq. But everything Jones writes is a must-read, whether it’s a feature on an athlete or a politician, a movie star or a movie critic. Read his piece on Ricky Williams. Read all of his features on John McCain. Read his profile of Jeff Bridges. Read his famous story on Roger Ebert. Read his piece on the guy who outsmarted The Price is Right. And for god’s sake, read his story on what it’s like being a paramedic.

Not all of his stories are serious or require dozens of interviews. He’s just as fun to read when he writes about a fistfight with a hippie named Jericho or the best bar in America (which just happens to be in Minnesota.)

So far, 2012 has been a fascinating year for Jones, though he would likely use a different word to describe it. He’s written two major pieces already this year, one on the escaped animals from a private zoo in Zanesville, Ohio, the other on Lyndon Johnson biographer Robert Caro. Unfortunately for Jones, two other magazines also did major stories on the escaped animals in Zanesville and Robert Caro. And both came out at the same time as his Esquire stories. This did not make for an entirely happy Writer at Large.

Jones is from that mysterious land to the north, Canada. He started his professional career at Canada’s the National Post, where he earned acclaim as a sportswriter. The start of his Esquire career is somewhat legendary, at least among writers and those who long to be writers. While still at the Post, Jones walked into the Esquire building in New York City unannounced, with donuts and a dream (memoir title?). He was able to talk an Esquire editor into reading his work. Months later, while unemployed and practically homeless, he earned a shot with the magazine and made the most of it, becoming Esquire’s sports columnist (read all about that beginning in this talk he gave late last year). That gig eventually turned into his current position, where he’s established himself as perhaps the best magazine writer in the country. Many people have heard of Jones’s magazine ploy and wished they could do the same, perhaps forgetting that the most important things in his arsenal that day weren’t snacks, but a lot of talent and even more desire.

Here, Jones talk about Robert Caro, the importance of endings, writing about writers, Mike Weir’s greatness, duplicate stories, a famous sex column, the lifespan of a long-form writer and much more. Thanks a lot for your time, Chris.

(more…)


A quickie Tapes for this week, as I’m about to pass out from chugging Nyquil to battle a cold I came down with. My wife’s half-a-world away, otherwise she’d make me soup or something. I’d feel bad making her fly all day back from Africa just to heat up some chicken noodle.

Onward:

* I’m linking to two pieces I haven’t read, which is violating an unwritten TVFury rule. Both deal with the case in Ohio when a troubled man let loose his exotic animals before killing himself. Police were forced to shoot tigers and bears and other creatures that had been released. Esquire’s Chris Jones wrote about it, as did GQ’s Chris Heath. I’ve heard both stories are good but quite different. There is also some inside baseball going on as it’s odd for two writers at rivals to be working on a story like this at the same time in the magazine world. This New York Observer article explains some of it. I haven’t read either story because I’m waiting for each magazine in the mail. Old school.

* Bill Simmons did a podcast with his sports hero, Larry Bird. Even as a Lakers fan I enjoyed the piece, primarily because it’s fun listening to a basketball genius like Larry talk hoops, even if you have to wade through way too much talk about the 1986 Celtics and how if Kevin McHale had been healthy in 1987, he would have blocked Magic’s skyhook in Game 4 of the Finals.

* TVFury readers will remember Kevin Van Valkenburg, who did a Fury Files in December. He just started working for ESPN the Magazine but penned a goodbye to his old paper, The Baltimore sun. A good read.

* Up next, not poetry, but candid words from a situation that’s a total cluster: The University of North Dakota nickname debate. Without getting into too much detail, the NCAA deemed the Fighting Sioux bit “hostile and abusive.” Boosters bristled. Laws were changed. And now the issue is threatening to cost the school future conference affiliation.
This story by Tom Miller from the Grand Forks Herald includes the most candid in-house comments maybe ever on the subject. That’s one of the things I miss least about living and working in North Dakota – the potential to be assigned to update that fiasco. It sort of makes me want to jam a pen into my eyeball the way this dude in Fargo once did after his arson-for-insurance scam was uncovered.

* Are you ready for the latest breakthrough in energy-drink can technology? Meet West Coast Chill. It comes equipped with a button that causes the temp of the swill to drop 30 degrees. I think about how much the world needs this every time I work in the office, my soda turning room temp before I can finish it. Yuck. And pouring it into, say, some sort of insulated thermos will make it go flat.
This entry will fit perfectly in my upcoming book, “I would have been totally screwed if I live in the 1800s.”